Cathay House in Waco, Texas: Good Chinese Food

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The Cathay House in Waco, Texas, was quaint. If I hadn’t known it was a restaurant, I would have driven right past it. Just by looks alone, it would not be my first choice for an Asian dining experience, but we know not to judge a book by its cover. And overall, this book wasn’t too bad.

We started off with a friendly waitress who was very patient with our large group order. I ordered the cashew nut chicken which came with a choice of soup and either fried or steamed rice. I chose the egg drop soup and the steamed rice.

I’ve never been a soup fan. I’ve never been successful finishing a bowl of soup, even if I like it. There’s a first time for everything, however, because I ate every drop of Cathay House’s egg drop soup! It was eggy, brothy, and not overly salty. I felt the portion size was perfect for the accompanying meal. Some restaurants serve appetizers the size of an entree. This is ridiculous on many levels, and it’s a waste of food unless you’re sharing with someone else. Cathay House did a good job with portion control. The bowl of soup aroused my hunger instead of satiating it.

The cashew nut chicken came with broccoli, mushrooms, water chestnuts, bamboo shoots, and cashews in a brown sauce. The dish would have been perfect if it hadn’t been overrun with water chestnuts. This was disappointing because the amount of water chestnuts overwhelmed the dish. I felt Cathay House’s chef skimped on the chicken to save money. I can’t recall eating a water chestnut, so I’ll give Cathay House kudos for making this vegetable tasty and something I’d want to eat again. The brown sauce was perfectly seasoned and smooth. The rice was fluffy and not too sticky. Our server brought a large bowl of rice for our table of six, but it wasn’t enough. Thankfully my fellow diners were polite and rationed the rice. Otherwise, there wouldn’t have been enough.

I try to not be biased when going to Chinese restaurants because I don’t have the greatest impression of them. Granted, the area I live in is just starting to become developed so there aren’t a lot of authentic Chinese restaurants around. My problem with most Chinese restaurants is the food tends to be greasy and salty, which seems to appease most American taste buds. I know this works for some people, but not for me. The only great Chinese food I ever had was when I was nine and Mom took the family to visit a friend in Houston. He took us to a great dim sum restaurant. That was only the true, authentic Chinese food I’ve ever had.

My overall rating of Cathay House is a bit mixed. I liked the service, the soup, and the brown sauce, but not the amount of water chestnuts compared to the rest of the vegetables and chicken. Another bowl of rice for our group would have been nice. I think the owners have a few things to improve, but they are not a bad Chinese restaurant. Maybe it wasn’t their best day and they were a little low on supplies (not a good excuse, but I understand the restaurant biz and it isn’t perfect). I would go back again just to see if the cashew nut chicken dish is a bit better. Next time we are in Waco, Big Grey Horse Media will definitely return for a follow up review.

Laura’s Perspective:

After the first show day of the Blue Ribbon Summer Festival II, we (the Coraggio show team) huddled over our smartphones to determine which restaurant we should eat at. I was craving Chinese and suggested Cathay House. I’d never been there before, but the online reviews were strong. Why not give a new place a try?

I’m glad that we did. Cathay House in Waco was a good choice: The food was authentic, the staff was pleasant, and our large group of horsey girls was easily accommodated.

Being the noodle head that I am, I chose the vegetable lo mein with chicken rice soup and an egg roll. The serving was so large (typical at a Chinese restaurant), I took home several leftover servings to eat later. The lo mein was good – I was impressed with the flavor of the overall dish, which was riddled with plenty of fresh veggies to pick through with my chopsticks. It was hard to choose which dish to try as Cathay House’s menu is quite extensive. The egg roll was also good, and a separate order, as my meal only came with a bowl of soup. And speaking of soup, the chicken rice soup was the winner of this meal. The serving portion was perfect, the broth was delicious, and it was mixed with just enough rice to make the soup interesting. I’ve tried other chicken rice soups that tasted like they were made from a seasoning packet. I’ve also had chicken rice soup that was overflowing with rice, which misses the point of this dish. The chicken pieces in the soup were utterly delish, in case you’re wondering.

It’s a shame I was tired and overheated from a day’s worth of showing my horse, seeing old horsey friends, and supporting my equestrian team. I was way too exhausted to explore my egg roll at Cathay House, which means I missed the opportunity to eat it fresh. There’s nothing better than a piping hot egg roll smothered with hot mustard sauce.

Takeaway

Cathay House is located at 825 Wooded Acres Drive in Waco, Texas 76710-4545. The phone number is 254/776-1072. The staff was wonderful at dividing up our group’s order and I paid with my credit card.

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Afriel Townshend About Afriel Townshend

Afriel Townshend is a regular contributor to the Big Grey Horse Media blog. She works closely with her mother, Laura Townshend, as they travel around Texas. Afriel also assists with marketing and social media campaigns. In addition to riding show hunters on the Texas Hunter & Jumper Association circuit, Afriel is currently in college pursuing her bachelor's degree.

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